Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The tortoises that helped Darwin's theory are not extinct?

Paul K. Philips                                                                                                                3/18/2014

Biology                                                                                                                           Current Event

         Tortoises are fascinating creatures and on the Galapagos Island there is a species of tortoise that was thought to be extinct since the 1840s. The article I read taught me a lot about these tortoises and how important they are. The article talks about how researchers traveled to the island and tested the DNA of 1,600 tortoises. The result of these tests showed that there are direct offspring of a tortoise species that used to live on Floreana Island. This species was supposed to be extinct in the 1840s. The Galapagos tortoises are actually famous because Darwin's theory of evolution explained how the species evolved to survive in its home land. On the Floreana Island he studied the Chelonoidis Elephantopus. The article also talked about how researchers found DNA evidence of these tortoises as purebred among the other tortoises on the Isabela Island. The researchers even called them aliens because they were so divergent genetically, or mutated. Their tests showed that these tortoises came from Floreana Island. This article then goes on to how they flipped the tortoises and took their blood, from the equivalent to an elbow.

         This discovery shows that these types of tortoises are not extinct and that they descendants are still roaming the world today. These tortoises are very important to the islands' ecosystems. They also sprout an endangered prickly pear cactus on their backs. It is also very fascinating because of the possibility of these tortoises being the direct descendants of the exact same tortoises Darwin studied.

        I enjoyed this article very much, and what caught my eye about it was the relevance to Darwin. I believe it has a good idea and topic, but it would have been better with more evidence and facts. I also think that it integrated the quotes they had very well and the quotes were helpful with understanding the article. The author also should have tied in more significance about the topic because of how the author made the article it sounded like it was not very important to society, but only to the researchers and scientists who are specifically interested in the topic already. I did not like how the article catered to scientists instead of the general public. I did not like how the article was organized, for example the title, "Giant Galapagos tortoise species may not be extinct" is not very interesting for such an interesting topic.

Citation: Weise, Elizabeth. "Giant Galapagos Tortoise Species May Not Be Extinct." USA TODAY. USA TODAY, 9 Jan. 2012. Web. <>.



  1. Great job Paul! I love sea animals. I had no idea that there was a species of tortoise thought to be extinct. So many animals today are becoming closer to extinction, it's nice to know that there is some hope. Very interesting how they have prickly cactus on their back! That's wild. I definitely would like to see a picture. Great job! Maybe more information to back yourself up next time but good job!

  2. I believe Paul did a great job describing the relevance of this article. Considering some people's fascination with sea animals, it was very interesting to read about. Besides this, Paul did a good job explaining the article. I felt that he used the facts well to sum up the article. Finally, I believe Paul does a great job actually reviewing the article. In his final paragraph, I was interested to see how Paul felt about the article, and I feel he reviewed its ups and downs very well. I was interested by the fact that people were blind to the existence of this species of tortoises since the 1840s. It was also new to me that tortoises are nearing extinction in some senses. While Paul reviewed the article very well, I felt that he could have organized his responses a little bit better. Overall a good job, and an interesting article. Well done Paul.